Review of the Senior Executive Service

28 Feb 2011

The landscape has changed significantly since the creation of the Senior Executive Service (SES) in 1984. With more than 20 years of reformist governments the Australian Public Service (APS) has undergone a major rethinking of its role and the way it carries out the task of public service.

The eighties and nineties saw a progressive emphasis on the accountability of Secretaries and SES staff for the timely, efficient and ethical delivery of outcomes that reflect Government priorities. As a corollary, Secretaries were given much greater flexibility in the way in which they marshaled their financial and staff resources – if they were to be accountable they needed to have to hand all the tools required to deliver outcomes. This included progressively greater departmental level control over SES numbers and classifications.

The recent rapid growth in the SES and the growth within the SES in the number of the most senior staff have led to questions about whether controls on SES numbers and classification levels would help constrain costs and maintain equity at little damage to the public good.

This review examines:

  • the rate, geographic location and causes of workforce growth
  • the likelihood of classification creep and
  • the role of the SES in current classification structures including the development of Work Level Standards for each level of the APS

and makes findings and recommendations in relation to these matters. 

The review of the SES is one of 28 projects based on the recommendations of Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration (the APS Reform Blueprint), which was released in March 2010.


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